Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas

Wow, what a year! If you'd told me last Christmas that I'd be where I am now I probably wouldn't have believed you. Another book published, another deal signed and the first of a new trilogy delivered. 2009 opened the door to a whole new life as a full time writer.
When I left the Scotsman in July, I looked forward to the future with a mixture of excitement and something not far short of terror. I was walking out of a career comfort zone and into the unknown, away from a salary to a place where the cheques arrive every six months, if they arrive at all. A lot of people said they envied me and that I was being brave. What they actually meant was they thought I was off my head.
But I had a plan, and as 2009 closes that plan is still on track.
There's still another six months before my new book Hero of Rome comes out, but the thought of it being on the shelves already gives me a thrill. It tells the story of Gaius Valerius Verrens, tribune of the Twentieth legion and reluctant commander of the last stand of the defenders of the Temple of Claudius against Boudicca's avenging hordes. It's a tale of danger and sacrifice, courage and comradeship, love and betrayal on an epic scale and I loved writing it. My last book, Claudius, had loads of great reviews although it didn't quite make the impact I hoped it would, but the wonderful thing is that the sense of expectation is always there. Maybe this is the one!

2010 will undoubtedly be a year of challenges for everyone - I hope it brings you joy and success, health and happiness.

Have a Merry Christmas and a great New Year


Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Final chapter

I was in Glasgow the other day for lunch with a former workmate (Yes, you may well say the joys of self-almost-employment) when I had the misfortune to witness the death knell of the huge Border's Book Shop in Buchanan Street. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people scavenging for novels and non-fiction at knockdown prices and queues snaking from the tills back down into the basement. If you didn't know what was happening you'd have thought the book trade had never been in better shape.

To be honest the Glasgow shop has always been well-populated when I've been there in the past and I know the company's terminal problems stem from the problems in America, but seeing such a huge literary institution brought to its knees like that sent a shiver through me.

And the credit crunch strikes ever closer to home. The wine shop at the end of the road which has served me well for the past twenty years is closing on Wednesday. It's been Haddow's, Bottoms Up, Victoria Wine (twice) and Wine Rack but it's always been there. Now the shelves are empty. The reason they went bust is that the banks wouldn't extend their credit, still it's nice to know that bankers are putting the billions we gave them to proper use and awarding themselves enormous bonuses for surviving the financial meltdown they created in the first place.